Immediate Release- Idinthakarai women win Chingari Award for Non-violent struggle


Press Release

Chingari Award to the women of Idinthakarai – epicenter of the non violent struggle against the powerful nuclear lobby

Chief Guest Dr. Vandana Shiva lauds the role of women in fighting corporate crime

Bhopal, December 1st 2012: The ‘Chingari Award for Women against Corporate Crime’ was handed over to two women, Rani Dasan and Thenmozhi Manickam, representing the thousands of brave women activists who have rallied against the powerful nuclear establishment in a continuing struggle for justice against great odds. Eminent environmental activist, Dr.Vandana Shiva, the Chief Guest at the function, said, “The Kudankulam struggle has emerged not merely as the most defining challenge to nuclear power in the country today but is also one of the strongest demonstrations of non-violent people’s power. The role of the women in the struggle has been critical in ensuring that the energy of the fight remains undiminished. They are truly the ‘chingaris’ of the struggle and it is an honour to be able to present the award to them.”

Referring to the contribution of the women in the fight, the citation of the award read,” The simple women of Idinthakarai, Kuthenkuzhi, Kootapully, Koodankulam, Vairavikinaru and numerous other

coastal villages in Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Thootukudi districts embody the spirit of democracy, courage and resistance. Their antagonists are no ordinary entities. Ranged against the beedi-rollers, agriculturists and fisherwomen of South Tamil Nadu is a formidable array of opponents – the Governments of Tamil Nadu, India and Russia; a nuclear supplier lobby comprising multinational companies who see the entire Indian market shutting its doors to them if the Koodankulam struggle were to succeed; a media that has for most part been hostile; a disinterested and cynical public, and national political parties that have either remained curiously silent or come out vocally in support of nuclear energy. In celebration of the power of non-violence over violence, of truth over falsehood and of people’s resolve over the might of a corporate police state, the 2012 Chingari Award is given to the brave women of Idinthakarai, Koodankulam, Kuthenkuzhy, Kootapully and Vairavikinaru.”

Speaking at the award ceremony, Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, Managing Trustees of Chingari and women who’ve lead from the front in the fight for corporate accountability against multinational Dow-Carbide, said:

We feel honored to be able to stand in solidarity with the women of Idinthakarai. The Chingari Trust is for the 6th year running been able to shine the spotlight on brave women activists across the country fighting powerful vested interests at great risk to their lives. We also remember today the feisty Dayamani Barla a journalist and tribal activist, who was a recipient of this award in 2008 who is now imprisoned by the Madhya Pradesh government, in a blatant attempt to intimidate and repress a fight against land acquisition. We condemn this action of the state and call for her immediate release.”

The Chingari Trust was started by two women survivors of the Bhopal disaster who were awarded the Goldman Environmental prize in 2004. The women – Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla used the prize money of 125 thousand USD to set up Chingari Trust. More than 150 children affected by the toxic legacy of the Dow – Carbide plant, are provided medical and social support at the Chingari rehabilitation center on Berasia road.
Rashida Bee Champa Devi Shukla

Managing Trustee Managing Trustee

 

Shooting the messenger #FOE


PARVATHI MENON, The Hindu,  Dec 1, 2012

NOW THE TARGET: In Naveen Soorinje’s arrest, the police, government and media community appear to be authoritative, uncaring and complacent respectively.
Photo: By Special ArrangementNOW THE TARGET: In Naveen Soorinje’s arrest, the police, government and media community appear to be authoritative, uncaring and complacent respectively.

It is a matter of shame that instead of being celebrated, Naveen Soorinje, who followed journalism’s best traditions in reporting the attack by Hindutva vigilantes in Mangalore earlier this year, is now languishing in jail

Had it not been for 27-year-old Navin Soorinje, a reporter with Kasturi Channel Newz 24 in Mangalore, and footage that he so generously shared with other channels, India would never have seen the images of what transpired behind the closed doors of “Morning Mist” homestay in Mangalore on the evening of July 28 this year.

It was a brutal attack that a group of self-appointed arbiters of societal mores belonging to the right-wing Hindu Jagarana Vedike let loose on an unsuspecting gathering of young men and women at the homestay. The appalling images of marauding hooligans mercilessly beating young men, and slapping, stripping and molesting women constitute a very strong body of evidence to proceed against the culprits. At what point the Mangalore police arrived on the scene is not clear, although there are several media reports quoting witnesses as saying that the police were present even as the attack was taking place, or were at the very least aware of the commotion going on, and could have intervened much earlier. On this matter, please see: 

TIP-OFF

Having received a tip-off from a reliable source about a volatile gathering outside the homestay, Mr. Soorinje rushed to the spot with a cameraman. He recognised Subhash Padil, a prominent leader of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike. When he realised the motives of the gang, he tried several times to alert the jurisdictional police from the venue. When he failed, he alerted a counterpart from another channel, who also tried to call the jurisdictional police. No, he did not throw himself physically into the fight. That would have been foolhardy given the numbers against him. He did what any journalist would do in such a situation — he got his cameraman to film the outrage. Mr. Soorinje informed his colleagues of the attack and shared his footage with anyone who asked. In fact, the attack was first aired on a rival channel.

It therefore came as shock to Mr. Soorinje that his name was included in the First Information Report, dated July 28, as a participant in the attack. The charge sheet, filed on September 20, invokes sections of the CrPC that related to offences such as “rioting with deadly weapons,” criminal conspiracy, unlawful assembly, and using criminal force on a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. It also invokes Sections 3 and 4 of The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986.

After the charge sheet was filed on September 20, Mr. Soorinje applied for anticipatory bail in the JMFC 3rd court. The application was to be heard on November 15. However, as he was arrested on November 7, Mr. Soorinje filed for bail the following day. The JMFC 3rd court rejected his bail application on November 17.

HIGH COURT STAYS CASE

Meanwhile, Mr. Soorinje had applied for a stay on the proceedings of the case in the High Court in Bangalore. The stay was granted on November 19. On the strength of this, Mr. Soorinje filed another bail application in the JMFC 3rd court which came up for hearing on November 20. He was produced handcuffed in court, in violation of the Supreme Court guideline that forbids the handcuffing of under-trials. The JMFC 3rd Court then asked the High Court for a “clarification” on the stay order. The High Court vacated the stay on November 21. Mr. Soorinje then filed for bail in the First Additional District and Sessions Court in Mangalore, and on November 27 that court too denied him bail.

Two of the four journalists who covered the homestay attack have been charged with the same offences as the criminals they so bravely exposed. Of them, only Mr. Soorinje is in jail, and has been denied bail.

There are several disconcerting elements in the case against Mr. Soorinje.

First, there is evidence from the phone records of the jurisdictional sub-inspector that he received two phone calls from Mr. Padil, leader of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, one before and one after the attack. This in itself may not prove collusion. Yet, Mr. Padil himself subsequently boasted to the media that he had alerted the police about “immoral activities” going on in the homestay and when they failed to act, he decided to enforce his own justice on the guests at the party.

Second, the case against Mr. Soorinje hangs on the evidence of Mr. Vijay Kumar, the organiser of the get-together and the only complainant. In his original complaint to the police, Mr. Vijay Kumar told a press conference, he had only referred to “activists of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike” as the perpetrators, with no names. In the FIR that formed the basis of the charge sheet, the names of the attackers appear, along with Mr. Soorinje’s. Mr. Kumar alleged that the police had made him sign a blank sheet of paper on the night of the attack.

ABSCONDING?

Third, in their charge sheet the police claimed Mr. Soorinje was “absconding,” even though he appeared three times before the investigating officer after the FIR was filed, even completing a 42-point police questionnaire with details of the incident. Further, he attended the first press conference held on November 19 by the new Commissioner of Police, Mangalore. He was constantly in public view, reporting live from various places. He was also issued a press pass by the Commissioner of Police that allowed him to cover a programme featuring the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi.

What does all this tell us? A police force that wishes to silence a conscientious journalist? A State government that cares little for the freedom of speech? A media community so complacent that it does not rally in support of a colleague who has become the victim of an obvious miscarriage of justice?

Naveen Soorinje chose to stand up for journalism’s best traditions, and it is a matter of shame that instead of being celebrated he has been jailed.

parvathi.menon@ thehindu.co.in

 

Married off at 11, Maharashtran girl wins battle for education #Vaw #childmarriage


By , TNN | Dec 1, 2012,

Married off at 11, Maharashtra girl wins battle for education
An 11-year-old girl from a small village in Aurangabad district walked into the Mukundwadi police station a couple of days ago to demand her right to education.

AURANGABAD: An 11-year-old girl from a small village in Aurangabad district walked into the Mukundwadi police station a couple of days ago to demand her right to education. Married off six months back to a 17-year-old boy suffering from mental illness, she mustered enough courage to approach the police and register a complaint against the boy and his parents for not allowing her to go to school.

The girl’s story was a familiar one—of abject poverty and the skewed nature of society. Apart from this, however, child welfare activists in Aurangabad say it wasn’t common to see a girl so young being married off. Last year, they had come across a case of a 14-year-old girl who was forced to marry by her parents. The Mukundwadi police referred the case of the fifth standard girl to the Cidco MIDC police as her village falls under their jurisdiction.

The police here handed her over to the city-based Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which immediately got her admitted to a school, where she has started attending classes Thursday onwards.

The CWC on Wednesday asked the police to register an offence against the parents of both the girl and the boy within three days. The girls’ parents and in-laws are reported to have fled their homes.

MIDC Cidco police inspector Ganpat Darade told TOI on Friday that they have recorded the girl’s statement. “She did not face any atrocity from her parents or the boy’s parents, though her father, who works as a labourer, is an alcoholic. It was only her desire to continue education that forced her to leave the boy’s home,” he said.

Darade said action would be taken against the parents of both the boy and the girl for violating the Prevention of Child Marriage Act. Social organizations and activists too expressed their concern over people mainly from the poor strata of society marrying off their minor children. CWC member Renuka Ghule said the girl was petrified when she came to the police station. “The police offered her food and water as she looked disoriented and tired. Later, when they took her into confidence, she narrated her story.

 

Faking news: Babus, netas discuss how to loot cash transfers #UID #Aadhar


DNA / Rahul Roushan / Saturday, December 1, 2012 9:00 IST

Corrupt officials, leaders, businessmen, and criminals from 51 districts of India met here early today to devise plans to loot the cash that would be transferred to the poor as part of the newly announced Direct Cash Transfer scheme of the government.

“A government scheme without any fraud is like a computer without virus,” said a government official willing to work on the project to digitize the Aadhar database.

“If your computer never had any virus problems, you had a sad and boring life,” he claimed.

The meeting was called in after these people were offended by some claims that suggested that the latest welfare schemes could minimize corruption by directly transferring cash to the intended beneficiary’s account, thus doing away with the intermediaries who might pocket a share.

“We took it personally and as a challenge to our abilities to scam and loot,” another official said. “The country will come to a grinding halt if honest officers are found more organised and alert than the corrupt ones!”

The criminals attending the meeting proposed that they would simply rob off the guys coming out of banks after withdrawing the cash, but they were asked to wait till the other members found a better way to loot the citizens of the country.

“That’s the easiest thing to do,” the leaders and officials told the criminals attending the meeting, “But let us first apply our minds and try to figure out how to run away with this cash without overt criminality.”

“It will help us to confuse people if we get caught,” a leader explained to the criminals.

With the criminals’ plan kept as back up, the businessmen proposed to start a company in the villages that will offer to manage the cash received by the poor men and women.

“We will promise to increase their cash by over 10 times in a year, and ask them to deposit the cash in our Ponzi schemes after withdrawing them from their accounts,” a businessman suggested. “We have fooled educated people in the urban India, so fooling these village folks shouldn’t be a problem at all,” the businessman added.

This idea to loot the cash subsidy through Ponzi scheme was well received, but some leaders thought that this plan was risky.

“Some journalists and activists might track how the poor were using the cash subsidies. They fear that men in the poor families will fritter these cash subsidies away on liquor and gambling,” a leader pointed out. “These guys might come to know about our Ponzi scheme and may expose them.”

At this point of time, the criminals again offered to loot the poor people at gun point, but they were asked by the leaders and the officials to be patient.

“Look, we can do what was done in the MCD ghost employees case,” an official proposed. “We can have Aadhar cards issued to imaginary poor people and get cash transferred in those accounts, just like MCD was fooled into transferring salaries to imaginary employees,” the official added.

“We already have instances of Aadhar cards being issued to a coriander plant, so getting them issued to an imaginary human being shouldn’t be a problem,” the official pointed out.

Sources say that this suggestion was appreciated by everyone in the meeting and they agreed to meet next week with a detailed plan of the loot.

Rahul Roushan thinks he can make some sense through nonsense. He attempts the same through his news satire website www.fakingnews.com

 

# India-The murder of a Dalit girl and the silence over it #Vaw


 

Ravi Chandran, http://roundtableindia.co.in

(This article talks about the alleged murder of a Paraiyar girl, Gogila, by her family because of her love marriage with an Arunthathiyar boy, Karthikeyan, in a village in Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu. Apart from a small report in Junior Vikatan, the Tamil magazine, there has been absolute silence in the media over this tragic incident. Information for this article was primarily gleaned from conversations with Karthikeyan, the victim’s husband, his family, and the news report.)

paraiyan arunthathiyar marriage

Before going into the issue I want to discuss certain issues related to the discrimination and the tension prevailing among Dalit sub-castes in Tamil Nadu. These tensions can be found in all states in India. In Tamil Nadu, Paraiyars, Pallars and Arunthathiyars are the major sub-castes among Dalits. Paraiyars are advanced in education compared with other sub-castes, Pallars have a little land in some places, and Arunthathiyars are engaged in leather working and scavenging. Pallars and Paraiyars in Tamil Nadu look down upon Arunthathiyars. However it doesn’t mean that the way they look at the Arunthathiyars is similar to the way the Vanniyars or Gounders or Thevars see Arunthathiyars. In some pockets of Tamil Nadu, there are places where these sub-castes do have a mutual understanding and live together; but it does not mean that across Tamil Nadu they live with good understanding. Some of the educated Paraiyars have been doing enough damage to the relationship between the sub-castes. Take the example of the prominent intellectuals of Paraiyars in Tamil Nadu: none have said even a single line that all are Scheduled Castes. Let this be as it is. One point has to be made clear that across Tamil Nadu, any Arunthathiyar man marrying a Paraiyar or Pallar girl will never be accepted by the Paraiyar or Pallar communities.

Even before the odour of the burning homes in Dharmapuri has completely dissipated, some casteist Paraiyars in a Villupuram village have shown the same behavior as the Vanniyars. This incident took place in Pallinellinoor village near Kandamangalam in Villupuram district. The village comprises of 40 Paraiyar houses and 3 Arunthathiyar houses. On November 10th, Mr. Karthikeyan approached the local police station with the complaint that his wife was murdered by her own father and relatives.

Karthikeyan worked for daily wages and he says:

“Eight years ago, Ms. Gogila and I studied together in the Kandamangalam Vallalar high school. Since then we are in love. We both belong to Scheduled Castes, but different sub-castes. She is a Paraiyar and I belong to the Arunthathiyar sub-caste. Since her parents would not agree to the marriage, we got secretly married, which was registered on 1.12.2010 in Kadallur. However we both agreed to live separately till we get our parents to agree to our marriage. Ms. Gogila was working with a company related to medicine, and we both used to meet often.

Her parents came to know about the marriage recently. Immediately they planned to marry her off to someone and were looking for a groom. Ms. Gogila strongly opposed the move, therefore she was sent to her uncle’s house. In her uncle’s house, she was brutally attacked and was asked to agree to another marriage, but she disagreed. Suddenly on 8th Nov 2012, they told her that we will unite you and your husband and brought her back to her house. For three days they kept her in an isolated room, and demanded that she commit suicide. All these conversations were conveyed by Ms. Gogila to me and I have also evidence of the same (that these incidents did happen).

On the evening of 9th November, I called Ms. Gogila. Her mobile was switched off. In the morning I was told that Ms. Gogila had died.

Ms. Gogila was murdered by her parents. Therefore I immediately approached the police station and gave a complaint. The station Inspector came to the village and wanted to collect the body but they (her family) strongly resisted and the Inspector failed to collect the body. The parents burnt the body. Now their parents and others are constantly calling me to take the complaint back from the police station or else I would meet the same fate as Ms. Gogila.”

The Junior Vikatan report (translated) says:

When I (the reporter) spoke to Ms. Gogila’s friends, they said: “It is true that Gogila was in love with Karthikeyan and they got married. Mr. Karthikeyan used to take her to her workplace on his bike every now and then. She also used to say that we got married and our parents don’t know about that. If they come to know there would be a serious problem. However in recent times, she used to say that she is going to tell her father about her marriage. But she never told him. If we asked her about it, she would reply ‘that my father lives proudly and my marriage might hurt his pride. Therefore I do not want my father or parents to face any problem because of me‘. She was a strong woman full of courage and she would say that she will live with him.”

The village has a strong presence of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) cadres and they are keeping silent on this issue. What does that mean?

I am so surprised that no one is speaking about it. The internet is flooded with news on the horrific tragedy of Dharmapuri, but there is very little on this issue. This is not the first such case in Tamil Nadu where Arunthathiyars faced discrimination from fellow Dalits from the Paraiyar community. The above incident, in my view, is not only about caste violence but it is about both gender and caste violence, resulting from the caste prejudice which dictates that a well-off Paraiyar woman should not marry a sweeping community boy. So many fact finding missions have gone to Dharmapuri, but this issue has attracted none. Why?

Dalit movement and intellectuals keep on saying that Dharmapuri is an example of caste violence, but they fail to see the gender violence behind the tragedy which had transformed into caste violence. Certainly every community seems to want to control its population numbers and they see women (marrying outside the community) as a threat and also as easy targets for their male chauvinism.

There are many such incidents where Arunthathiyar men marrying Paraiyar women were murdered or their sisters were sexually assaulted. We are all talking about the ‘love marriage’ that was supposedly the cause of the Dharmapuri violence, but its my view that it was not love marriage (that caused the incident) but the entrenched prejudice that marriages between women from dominant communities and men from lower communities should not be allowed that caused the violence. In Tamil Nadu, Vanniyars are opposing their women marrying Paraiyar men but the Vanniyars have never said that Vanniyar men should not marry Paraiyar women. Basically it is an argument founded on male chauvinism and gender bias, which is the core agenda of every caste organization, may it be of the Paraiyars, Pallars, or even Vanniyars. The present violence would also show that the caste Paraiyars killed their daughter for marrying a lower caste Dalit male.

Finally, why is it that the problems of Arunthathiyars have never gained any public attention in the past or in the present? I strongly feel the Dalit leaders and intellectuals have never tried to take any positive steps towards resolving different sub-caste problems. And thus, they also become silent supporters of violence on Arunthathiyars like in the case of the Villupuram couple.

~~~